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Privacy More Complex Than It Appears
Several of the world's leading technology companies have teamed up to promote consideration of consumer privacy. Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Intel and other major companies have established the Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum (CPL Forum) to support discussion of "comprehensive harmonized federal privacy legislation to create a simplified, uniform but flexible legal framework."

The CPL Forum initiative raises complex issues regarding both federal preemption of state privacy protection laws and permissible business use of consumer-generated data.

A statement issued by the CPL Forum explained that because a national standard would preempt State privacy laws, "a robust framework is warranted." A senior legal official with Google stated that the "uneven patchwork" of state consumer privacy laws can be counterproductive, "when you have so many laws all with the same aim but with different definitions, companies aren't able to create protection in a uniform way."

However, a senior official with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said "state governments have been more responsive than Congress in safeguarding consumer privacy." EPIC also said that they "welcome the participation of industry in the discussion, but it can't simply be an exercise in public relations."

The CPL Forum noted that the privacy legislation they support would "also enable legitimate businesses to use information to promote economic and social value." A senior official with the Progress & Freedom Foundation said that regulation of consumer information would have "unintended" consequences "especially when imposed on a medium like the Internet that is changing so rapidly."

Balancing the often conflicting interests of various stakeholders is no easy task. The CPL Forum is poised to make an important contribution to the debate.

  • Click for Consumer Privacy Legislative Forum Statement
  • Firms Seek Privacy Rules.pdf
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